Adobe will launch a version of Photoshop for the iPad at its Adobe Max conference in October – with Illustrator to follow – according to a story on Bloomberg, citing "people with knowledge of the plan".
The company wouldn’t confirm the date, but chief product officer Scott Belsky did tell the site that Adobe was working on iPad versions of Photoshop and a number of other desktop apps.
Belsky said to Bloomberg that “my aspiration is to get these on the market as soon as possible. There’s a lot required to take a product as sophisticated and powerful as Photoshop and make that work on a modern device like the iPad.”
The news arrives shortly after the highly anticipated release of Affinity Designer – essentially Adobe Illustrator for the iPad – which follows Serif’s Affinity Photo app that replicates most of Photoshop’s key features on the iPad, and was given a high-profile launch at an Apple keynote in June 2017. Conversely, not all of Adobe’s recent appearances keynotes have been well received.
Both Affinity Designer and Photo show that the iPad Pro is powerful enough to run professional grade creative applications that can output full projects – rather than just getting you started by limiting you to sketching or some other more basic toolset.
For Adobe, it’s not just a case of porting Photoshop to a mobile platform, but redesigning it to used primarily with the Apple Pencil and gestures rather than a mouse and keyboard, or Wacom tablet and keyboard shortcuts. Adobe supports gesture-based control on drawing and display tablets, as well as on tablet PCs such as the Microsoft Surface – but it's much less refined than Affinity Designer and Photo’s gestures, such as using pinch to group layers.
The Bloomberg story says that its sources point to Lightroom and its YouTuber-focussed, still-in-beta video editing application Project Rush as a model of how its plans could pan out. Rush is no match for Premiere Pro, but has similar functionality across mobile and desktop apps (with it running in a browser on the desktop). Lightroom CC exists as mobile and desktop apps, and includes a subset of what's now called Lightroom Classic - though the features of Lightroom CC are growing quickly.
Both Rush and Lightroom CC are designed around the ideas of precision on the desktop and flexibility when mobile - with projects shared across both. So a photographer can select images and perform basic edits on their iPad at or directly after an on-location shoot, then refine the photos when they get back to their studio. Or a YouTube 'influencer' could edit a commercial post on the desktop, then make edits based on client feedback while travelling to their next shoot.
Even if Photoshop for the iPad doesn't have the same set of features as the desktop version - and it probably shouldn't as after decades of development there are a lot of duplicated ways to do things - then the ability to start on or edit PSDs on an iPad without having to lug a MacBook Pro around with them will appeal to many designers. Others, however, may find the idea of being expected to work when away from their laptop less than endearing.